Sara Gon responds to Suraya Dadoo's defence of that organisation and her attack on Israel
“1988 Charter no longer a reflection of Hamas' position” – It just ain’t so
Suraya Dadoo wrote an article published on Politicsweb (29 October 2015) entitled “1988 Charter no longer a reflection of Hamas' position”. Dadoo is a researcher for Media Review Network. She is also the co-author of Why Israel? The Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid: A South African Perspective.
Dadoo says Hamas has committed itself to a just political solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. She opines that the Israeli government sustains its occupation of Palestine with fear. Fear of the Palestinian ‘demographic threat’. Fear of Iran. Fear of ISIS.
“This siege mentality – so reminiscent of the tactics employed by the South African Apartheid regime to sow fear into the white population – manifested itself most clearly during the ANC’s recent hosting of Hamas’s political leadership in South Africa.
Taken straight out of the swart gevaar handbook, various statements denouncing the Hamas presence in South Africa issued by the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the Freedom Front Plus, as well as the US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) all featured the word “terrorist”, and described how Hamas was – according to its Charter – sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state, and completely opposed to negotiations.”
Throughout the four-day visit to South Africa, Khaled Misha’al, head of Hamas’s political bureau, spoke at length about an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, based on 1967 borders, with the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.
Hamas had committed itself to a just political solution – not merely a “two-state solution” where a Palestinian ‘mini-state’ has its major cities cut off from each other, its government unable to control its own water resources, develop its agriculture, or manage its trade with neighbouring states.”
Below are some responses challenging Dadoo’s comments –
- sustains the occupation with fear – The Israelis fear that if Israel was to end the occupation of its own accord, Palestinian demography, anti-Semitism and violence would result in the elimination of the Jewish state. Israel firmly believes that given the opportunity, Iran would annihilate the Jewish state. Israelis are justified in fearing ISIS. ISIS is less than 100kms from Israel’s northern border.
- for these reasons, Israel isn’t suffering from a “siege mentality” – Israel is under siege. Its actions are disproportionately criticised by many members of the UN. For an increasing number of commentators the explanation can only be found in anti-Semitism. Israel more accurately suffers from a “besieged mentality”.
- “swart gevaar” was used by the Nationalist government to convey a perceived threat by black South Africans to white South Africans. The statements against Hamas are not about a perceived threat – This is wrong. The statements about Hamas are about an actual threat, repeatedly realised, and currently manifested in the “stabbing intifada” supported by, and possibly organized, by Hamas.
- the failure by Jewish organisations to see that Hamas has clearly moved away from its Covenant was ridiculous - Hamas no longer talks about its Charter to audiences in the West. The Charter is no longer available on its website thus giving the impression that it no longer exists and therefore Hamas no longer subscribes to it. Those who see the site for the first time are unlikely to know that The Charter still. The Charter, adopted in 1988, has never been rejected, amended or even modified by Hamas.
- “…spoke at length about an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, based on 1967 borders, with the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Hamas had committed itself to a just political solution – not merely a “two-state solution” - As regards the “Right of Return”: the Palestinians are the only refugees in the world who have been granted the right for their succeeding generations to be given refugee status. As a result there are now over 7 million Palestinian refugees. In order to be accommodated, they cannot simply return to a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution. They would have to have Israel as well. The Jewish state would disappear.
- The SAZF and SAJBD again invoked the Hamas Charter, claiming that “the core ideology of Hamas is underpinned by a rabid hatred of the Jewish people.” Yet, on the day the statement was issued, Misha’al was scheduled to meet progressive Jewish groups in Johannesburg. “The problem is not Judaism or Jews, it is the occupation” - “Progressive Jews” represent a tiny minority of South African Jews. They do not represent the majority of Jews and do not represent the views of all of Jewish society. Currently the views of “progressive Jews” is a minority view.
- According to Misha’al, the Hamas Charter is no longer a true expression of the movement’s overall vision, and does not reflect the current thinking of the movement. Hamas does not even use the Charter on its website and uses its election manifesto, and more recent documents, to describe its overall vision and objectives. For Israel’s apologists, however, Hamas has not gone far enough, and they demand that the movement formally abrogates the Charter - If Hamas means what it supposedly says, it should revoke or amend its Charter. If it no longer supports the views stated therein, it must amend the Charter. Presumably, the Charter hasn’t been changed because it still reflects the ethos of Hamas.
- The Charter of Israel’s ruling Likud Party “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River [in the West Bank].” It did. However –
Likud’s charter was a Party Platform not a Covenant, which is a contract or agreement, often impliedly between men and God.
A “platform” is a list of the values and actions which are supported by a political party or individual candidate in order to appeal to the general public. The ultimate purpose of a platform is to garner the general public's support and its votes about complicated topics or issues.
Likud was formed in 1973. It was first elected to power in 1977 when, for the first time since its founding 29 years before, Israelis voted the socialist Labour Party out of power. Likud Prime Minster Menachem Begin negotiated peace with Egypt in 1978. Likud won the 1981 elections. It governed with a coalition in 1984. It won in 1988 but lost to Labour in 1992 and 1996. Likud won 1999 and 2003. Kadima won in 2006. Likud in coalition with Israel Beiteinu won in 2009 and 2013, and Likud won in 2015.
In Israel’s 2015, 25 political parties appeared on the ballot. This represents both a strength and a weakness in Israel’s democracy, but a well-established democracy it is.
Likud is one of many parties available to the Israeli public to vote for. And it hasn’t always been in office. Like many conservative parties world-wide it can often be more pragmatic than its rhetoric would have us believe.
- Should the ANC formally distance itself from the Freedom Charter, because many can argue that it no longer represents the policy and values of today’s ANC? After all, the doors of learning have not been opened to all. The land has not been shared among those who work it – The Freedom Charter does not hold that death for the sake of God is its most sublime belief; there is no provision that a negotiated settlement is not possible or that Jihad is the only answer; the FC makes no sweeping defamatory claims about Jewish influence and power; the FC doesn’t invoke a conspiracy indictment against "Israel, Judaism and Jews”; and the FC doesn’t contain approving references to notorious anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”.
- Misha’al has maintained that Hamas will continue to resist occupation by all available means, including armed struggle – an inalienable right enshrined in the United Nations General Assembly resolutions, the Fourth Geneva Convention and its subsequent protocols. “Where there is occupation and oppression there is resistance. Resistance is a duty.”” – What Hamas has explicitly rejected is negotiation. UN General Assembly Resolutions do not contain inalienable rights. They are non-binding recommendations.
- We honour Nelson Mandela as a hero because of his resistance to, not because of his subservience to apartheid repression. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising by the Jewish population against Nazi occupiers, is a source of inspiration. Jews who joined the armed resistance in Poland, and other places under Nazi occupation, are heroes, not just for Jewish people – but for all of humanity, including Palestinian freedom-fighters – The circumstances of the Jews in Europe and the Palestinians are incomparable. Any argument to the contrary is slander. Murder of the Jews was the first and last objective of the Nazis. Alternative methods of achieving freedom were never available to the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto – only death.
- Arguing that the values, aims and strategies of Hamas are opposed to the ANC is scurrilous, and sanitises our bloody path to liberation. Israel’s defenders sell the South African, particularly Mandela’s, narrative as only one of reconciliation. Have we forgotten that Mandela refused PW Botha’s offer of an early release if he renounced the armed struggle? Or that Mandela defiantly declared on the day he was released from prison that “until apartheid has been dismantled, there is no reason why we should consider suspending the armed struggle.” – In reality the armed struggle was the least competent and least successful armed resistance struggle in Africa. The Freedom Charter includes the following rights that appear nowhere in Hamas’s Charter:
1. A democratic state, based on the will of all the people, which can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;
2. Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws;
3. The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;
4. All Shall be Equal Before the Law!
5. No-one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial;
6. No-one shall be condemned by the order of any Government official;
7. The courts shall be representative of all the people;
8. All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights
9. The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children;
10. All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands.
11. South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;
12. South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war.
- “We are proud of the reconciliation dimension to our story. But for Palestinians, the essential narrative that South Africa has to offer is one of solidarity, reconciliation and resistance.” – We should be prouder of our reconciliation and negations dimensions than of the unsuccessful armed struggle dimension: the first two are what really helped to bring democracy to South Africa. You can only negotiate a solution to anything if you accept the rights of your negotiation partner to exist.
- “Viewed through a lens of fear, it is easy to dismiss a group as terrorists, sworn to violence and destruction. According to this narrative, theyare undeserving of a seat at a negotiating table. Through internal resistance and international boycott, the terrorists in South Africa found a seat at the table and had a stake in ensuring a lasting peace. Those who claim to care about Israel, will encourage the Israeli government to replace fear with courage, so that this can happen for Palestinians and Israelis too“ – Fear does not form Israel’s view of Hamas. Its experience of Hamas forms its view and justifies its fears. To take a place at the negotiation table, a party has to be prepared to negotiate. As stated, this is not Hamas’s position. A seat at the table is in Hamas’s hands not Israel’s. Israel’s fear is justified but no one can accuse the Israelis of lacking courage.
The ANC’s identification with Hamas as equivalent to the ANC in the struggle for freedom is a delusion. The benefit of a good relationship with Israel could be of immense value to South Africa and its people. The clear partisanship of the ANC is worrying and potentially highly detrimental to us all.
Sara Gon is a Policy Fellow at the IRR, a think tank that promotes economic and political liberty. Follow the IRR on Twitter @IRR_SouthAfrica.